Video case studies

Watch the three videos below showing how schools in NSW have integrated a Healthy School Canteen into their local setting with approaches that meet the needs of their school community.

Hebersham Public School

AMANDA: My name's Amanda Campbell. I have twins girls they're in Year 4 at Hebersham Public School.

TEEGAN: My name's Teegan.

TENILLE: And my name's Tenille.

AMANDA: In the past it has been a challenge to have my daughters eat healthy and fresh. They want nuggets and chips.

OLIVIA: The trouble that we're facing is that there's so many unhealthy options for children these days.

So at Hebersham Public School we have a four-pronged strategy, helping students understand that food doesn't come from a package.

We have a cooking teacher, we have our gardening program, we have Crunch & Sip, and we also have a healthy school canteen.

MELISSA: A lot of students don't know where fruit and vegetables come from. Anything that looks green gets a nervous reaction.

TEEGAN: We've been learning to grow, what time to water plants.

TENILLE: And how long they take before we can harvest them.

MELISSA: Each week they come for half an hour to do various things from planting seeds to watering.

TEEGAN: We've got lettuce.


TENILLE: Pumpkins, spring onion.

TEEGAN: And mint.

OLIVIA: Crunch & Sip occurs daily in the classrooms. The students bring in fresh fruit and vegetables, so things that are not in a package. And their option for drinking is water.

For those students that don't have Crunch & Sip, we're using the rent from the canteen to purchase the fresh fruit and vegetables to be available in the office.

Not only are we promoting it in the classroom, we want the students to able to go and buy healthy food options at the canteen.

AMANDA: This year the canteen is a hundred percent healthier. They get meal deals so a bottle of water, a piece of fruit, and a salad wrap.

STUDENT: It keeps you hydrated and healthy.

OLIVIA: And the staff are actually enjoying those healthy items as well.

AMANDA: The kitchen program is the best thing that my girls have been involved in.

MELISSA: They'll come in for an hour and a half, and it's always based around on what's been growing in the garden.

So we make quiches and curries.

TENILLE: Gnocchi.

TEEGAN: Salads and some pestos.

MELISSA: They just eat so many things that they'd never try.

AMANDA: It's made a difference in what they wanna eat at home as well.

TEEGAN: Yeah 'cause, she normally know us as like, Mum can we have takeaway and like, oh Mum can we have some risotto? She was a bit shocked when she heard us say it.

AMANDA: Stuff that I never thought I would get them to eat.

TEEGAN: My favourite food is now quiches and gnocchis that are fresh, that are homemade.

AMANDA: They can make a simple meal, at home on their own. Always healthy. I would have loved to have a program like this when I was at school.

STUDENT: It's always a good time to eat fruit, so your brain doesn't get empty when you start working.

OLIVIA: It's really nice to see food that hasn't come in a package, that you think, oh what is that.

MICHELLE: I think it's important to start the children off knowing that they can make these right food choices from an early age. They've got to be able to make these choices for life.

Canobolas Rural Technology High School

ANDREW: Orange is renowned for its food industry. It’s traditionally quite a rural farming area.

I'm Andrew Farley, I did my apprenticeship and later became the sous chef of a fine dining restaurant here in town.

Even though Orange is renowned for its food, we are in a predicament where canteens, in particular, are still selling the traditionally unhealthy, processed foods.

GEOFF: The canteen here was a fairly traditional school canteen. Meat pies, sausage rolls.

KATE: The old canteen was certainly not making money. The P&C decided to look for another manager of the school canteen.

ANDREW: I was looking around for a bit of a change of pace, and heard about a job offering here at the school.

KATE: And when we got the ideas for the new menu from Andrew, there was no choice but to employ him.

ANDREW: I thought it was going to be a pretty cruisy job, I was very wrong with that assumption.

Trying to cook for 400 odd students, day one, with no experience in a canteen situation was quite a challenge.

I made the decision then that I wasn't going to try and phase in a lot of food, I was just gonna come in and completely bring in my own menu, pushing it towards an urban cafe feel, getting students and teachers involved and breaking down the barrier between the two.

The biggest changes I've made to the menu, are taking away a lot of the sausage rolls and pies, and bringing in healthier alternatives, focusing more on whole ingredients as opposed to processed foods, making a lot of fresh stuff ourselves.

I really do look for local produce where I can. Fruit, fresh every week from a local orchard.

One of the first weeks I was here, I was told that I would never sell any fruit at all, and I couldn't even give it away.

And, later that week I had actually sold over 20 kilos of fruit, in the form of our fruit cups, which was a really proud moment for me, to be able to come in and prove that to be wrong.

[School bell]

ANDREW: Lunchtime rush is quite hectic.

GEOFF: There was a little bit of resistance because kids were seeing foods that they weren't familiar with.

ANDREW: One day this student who always got a sausage roll, seemed quite devastated in the fact that he couldn't get a sausage roll, so I suggested to him to try the pasta, and he came back the next day, raving about how great this pasta was and he now buys the pasta every single day.

KATE: He opens up options for them to try new foods. He not only changed the food menu, but also the pricing structures, so the cheaper options are the healthiest options.

STUDENT:  Yeah, it's definitely been a change for the better, like heaps more kids now buy their lunch.

KATE: Financially, Andrew's made a massive profit in the first 12 months.

ANDREW: We've doubled the sales of the previous canteen. Well, we're seeing a huge increase in the sale of healthy options.

KATE: I know that a lot of schools are very hesitant to make changes, and I would agree that I was dubious to start with, that the kids would embrace it, but they absolutely do, and they love it.

GEOFF: You can't underestimate the choices kids will make, if presented with healthy options.

ANDREW: I do get a great sense of satisfaction, and being able to see a change that's been made to these kids' lives, through food, and through providing a really positive atmosphere here at the canteen.

Blackheath Public School

JODY: Blackheath is a little town set on an escarpment of the Blue Mountains. It's quite a vibrant community because it's still quite a small community. That's the beautiful thing about Blackheath.

JANE: We had a canteen, running very successfully. Then, just last year, a situation arose where the canteen was no longer financially viable. The canteen had to be closed for term. That was a huge gap in our school.

JODY: It was quite an impassioned fight to get the canteen back and running. We are actually running the canteen now as a business. The P&C I guess is the employer of the canteen managers, and so the canteen has to be a sustainable business model.

JANE: One of the issues with school canteens is it's so hard to get volunteers.

SAM: We really had to try and nurture a really positive volunteer culture base.

CHRISTINE: So we just said to everybody, if you've got 20 minutes up your sleeve, or if you've got the whole day, just pop in, and we'll always find you something to do.

DEREK: I'm a local builder. I take Friday mornings off to do the volunteering. You can drop in for as long or as little as you want. It's good fun. A lot of the parents get in there a little bit earlier just so we can catch up.

JANE: My own opinion about school canteens is we have a captive market, so we have a responsibility to serve them healthy food.

JODY: We work on the principle that if we wouldn't eat it, we're not gonna serve it.

CHRISTINE: There's not a lot of food that we actually buy in. It's more stuff that we actually make every day.

We've got a beautiful community garden in our own back yard in the school premises.

STUDENT: We grow snow peas, broad beans, zucchini, tomato. We harvest a lot for the canteen, so that goes into our lunch orders.

JODY: The beautiful thing is we've got parents who come in and go, "I've got this recipe, do you wanna try it?"

So we came up with an idea for a cookbook with recipes from parents. And it'll be a fundraiser towards the canteen.

CHRISTINE: We run a cultural week two days a week.

JANE: Vietnamese food, Chinese food, Korean food.

ADRIAN: We've got a wonderful canteen downstairs. What we really like is every week, we get a different country and a different feature and a different menu.

JODY: We've had requests for South American food, and some child did suggest food from the Antarctic, but we haven't actually worked that one out yet… Gelato!

STUDENT: I think that they make really good food, and they're really healthy. It's important to eat healthy food because it gives you much more energy and it makes you have a longer life.

ADRIAN: A well-fed kid makes for a more settled kid in the class.

JODY: Each week, parents pay $25 and then they have a veggie box delivered to the school so they can pick it up. Out of that $25, five dollars goes back to the P&C.

CHRISTINE: This year we have made a profit.

JODY: So the canteen is actually sustainable.

One of the big reasons why the canteen works is we have passionate people involved.

CHRISTINE: Well done, team.

JANE: The canteen is like a kitchen is at home. It's the heart of the school, and it brings everyone together.

Just like the kitchen at home, it radiates out to the rest of the school with its warmth. It's like a big family.

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